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Costa Rica Beaches: The Nicoya Peninsula

The best beaches on Costa Rica's Nicoya Peninsula.


The Nicoya Peninsula is a large, rectangular-shaped peninsula on the northwestern coast of Costa Rica.

Because the entire region is ringed by beaches, the Nicoya Peninsula is Costa Rica's most popular beach destination. Its beaches have always been reasonably accessible from San Jose. However, since the establishment of the Liberia International airport, travelers can reach Nicoya beaches just a couple hours after arriving in Costa Rica.

Popular Nicoya beaches include:

Montezuma Beach (Playa Montezuma)

Costa Rica Board of Tourism
Costa Rica's Montezuma Beach, on the southern base of the Nicoya Peninsula, is the favorite Costa Rica beach for travelers of the bohemian persuasion. If you love a Costa Rica beach party and you're reasonably open-minded, head to Montezuma.

Samara Beach (Playa Samara)

Located right in the center of Nicoya's western coast, Sarama Beach and its smaller, southern neighbor Playa Carrillo are far less crowded than popular Nicoya beaches like Tamarindo. However, they offer a comparable roster of attractions, like hiking, diving, canopy tours, surfing and more.

Mal Pais Beach (Playa Mal Pais) and Santa Teresa

Even though Mal Pais means Bad Land, Mal Pais's beaches are anything but. To its south lies the Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve, a great place to explore on foot or by boat. To its north lies Santa Teresa, of Costa Rica's best surfing destinations. Both Mal Pais and Santa Teresa offer shopping, dining, and not too many tourists.

Tamarindo Beach (Playa Tamarindo)

Juan Amighetti
Tamarindo isn't just the Nicoya Peninsula's most popular beach – it's one of the most popular beaches in all of Costa Rica (tied with Manuel Antonio). And because Tamarindo beach is located at the very northernmost part of Nicoya, it's extremely easy to get to. Playa Grande to the north offers challenging surf.

Tambor Beach (Playa Tambor)

Tambor Beach in Costa Rica is northeast of Montezuma, set on an inlet called Bahia Ballena, or whale bay. The village of Tambor boasts its own airport, and Isla Tortuga is a quick boat ride away.

More Nicoya Beaches

If your idea of a perfect Costa Rica beach includes empty sands and more basic accommodations, the Nicoya Peninsula's less crowded (yet equally beautiful) beaches include Playa Nosara, Playa Junquillal, Playa Coyote, Playa Islita, Playa Conchal, and Playa Hermosa.

There are plenty more Nicoya Peninsula beaches we don't have room to mention, as well as plenty we don't even know about. The best way to find an uncrowded beach in Nicoya? Ask the locals. They'll point you in the right direction – and often, they'll offer to lead you there themselves!

More Costa Rica Beaches

Kirsten Noelle Hubbard
Take a look at our choices for Costa Rica's Top 10 Beaches!
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  7. Nicoya Costa Rica Beaches - Nicoya Beaches in Costa Rica - Nicoya Peninsula Beaches

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